OSIRIS-REx is on a course for Earth

On September 10, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft made a small but important course adjustment. It headed for the Earth. 

The scheme of the meeting of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft with the Earth and the dumping of the capsule with soil samples. Source: ASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

OSIRIS-REx was launched in 2016 to study the near-Earth asteroid Bennu. The spacecraft examined the small body for several years, making a detailed map of its surface, and also took a soil sample. In 2021, OSIRIS-REx left Bennu and headed for Earth.

Currently, OSIRIS-REx is located at a distance of 7 million km from our planet. On September 24, OSIRIS-REx will drop a capsule with samples of asteroid matter, after which it will enter the earth’s atmosphere and land on the territory of the Utah Test and Training Range.

In preparation for this operation, on September 10, the mission specialists carried out an adjustment of the OSIRIS-REx course. During its course, it changed its speed by 22 cm/s. For all its apparent insignificance, the maneuver allowed the spacecraft to point at the right point on Earth.

The separation of the capsule with samples of asteroid matter will take place on September 24, when the spacecraft will be located at a distance of 102 thousand km from our planet. Four hours after separation, it will enter the Earth’s atmosphere and land in an area measuring 58-kilometer by 14-kilometer.

As for the OSIRIS-REx, 20 minutes after the capsule separation, the spacecraft activates the engines to “turn away” from the Earth. Next, it will fly at a distance of 780 km from the earth’s surface and go into interplanetary space. Its next target will be the asteroid Apophis. In April 2029, OSIRIS-REx will get closer to it, after which it will study the small body for the next 18 months.

According to https://blogs.nasa.gov

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